An article in EU Business documents the decline of Russian instruction in Central and Eastern Europe and the rise of English instruction. Here's an excerpt:
Russian, which was obligatory under communist rule, has since 1989 faded away and has been rapidly replaced by English and to a lesser extent German, said Hans Juergen Krumm, a language lecturer at the University of Vienna, who is leading a study into foreign language teaching in Central Europe.
This is not surprising. Language is a tool. People will learn to use whatever tools help them succeed in business and in life. Today, the tool of choice is English. Said Krumm:
"English has become the world's dominant language, in the way that French used to be. It is the language of economic globalisation and international organisations, and it is logical that it will take root in Central Europe, just as it did in Western Europe," Krumm told AFP.
So does this mean that American companies will soon be able to abandon their translation efforts when communicating with CEE?
I'm afraid not. It's important to keep in mind that the growth of English in Europe and elsewhere is as a second language not native language. And this makes all the difference when you're trying to reach the hearts -- and wallets -- of consumers.
February 9, 2003
I recently finished reading
Another One Bites the Grass:
Making Sense of International Advertising
Yes, I know the title is a bit odd. Yet whether you create global advertisements, businesses, or Web sites, you should read this book.
Author Simon Anholt writes about the challenges of creating successful global advertising campaigns. Most companies fail miserably in this department, and he outlines the reasons why. He also provides a model for "smart centralization," which he believes international advertising agencies should follow. This model also makes a great deal of sense for the development and management of global Web sites, which is one reason I enjoyed this book. I also liked how Anholt explained the inherent tension of trying to be both global and local at the same time. Here's an excerpt:
The fundamental challenges of international marketing communications are about preserving the perfect balance between sensitivity to the culture of the brand and sensitivity to the culture of the consumers around the world. If you abandon or relax your grip on the first sensitivity, you end up with fragmentation, loss of identity, and loss of control. Abandon or relax your grip on the second, and you fail to communicate effectively, and fail to build a global brand.
I also liked what he had to say about the importance of translation:
So when the question comes up, why can't we just use English? I always ask this question: do you think that consumers should make the effort to understand us, or should we be making the effort to be understood by them? Are we more interested in being respected, or showing respect?
For more information, go to Amazon
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February 8, 2003
Here's an interesting article about a recent study by George Barnett, professor of communication at the University of Buffalo. According to the study:
...the decades-long tendency toward Internet dominance by the United States, Canada and Western Europe may be changing as the regions of the world begin to cluster into mutual-interest groups.
As these regional clusters become more self sufficient, companies that sit outside of these clusters will have to work much harder to remain relevant. For instance, as companies in Asia begin looking less toward the West and more toward their neighbors for business opportunities, Western companies will need to work a little harder to grow (or maintain) business wthin Asian markets.
Web sites are a bellwether of cultural and political clustering. Companies are increasingly investing in Web globalization not just to gain market share but also to protect it. In the past six months alone, the following companies have launched localized Web sites:
-> Fairchild Semiconductor (Korean site)
-> L.L. Bean (Japanese site)
-> eTrade (German site)
-> Office Depot (Spanish site)
In January, a famous maker of Scottish whiskey, The Macallan, launched a Japanese site:
As clusters grow in size and buying power, expect to see the number of global sites multiply.
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